FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.com) - The T’s Board of Directors voted to change its advertising policy Wednesday.
The Fort Worth Transportation Authority will no longer allow religious-themed ads to appear on its buses.
The decision comes after The T sold ad space on four of its buses to the atheist group The Dallas Fort Worth Coalition of Reason.
The banner read “Millions of Americans are good without God”.
“We wanted to do two things: to attract people to ourselves and let people know we’re not demons.” Said Terry McDonald, President of the Coalition.
Before the campaign even rolled out there was a public backlash from some religious leaders and bus riders.
“True, everyone has an opinion,” said bus rider Brenda Price, “but I wouldn’t ride the bus, I wouldn’t ride THAT bus.”
“I don’t think they should put that kind of stuff out there,” said Chris Medved, who rides the bus every day. “It’s too much controversy on public transportation. “
In early December, when the ads were purchased, The T’S advertising policy allowed for religious-oriented banners.
Numerous Christian ads also adorn the company’s fleet.
“We’ve had religious ads and one non-religious ad,” said Joan Hunter, spokesperson for The T. “It’s an appreciation of freedom of speech.”
Some religious leaders called for a bus boycott, but Hunter said it did not have a noticeable impact.
Others bought ad space on the same buses.
The morning team at Christian radio station 90.9 KCBI took a different approach.
“We at KCBI made the conscious decision to be on the offensive this year, and to keep Christ in Christmas,” said morning show host Jim Wilson. “We thought this would be the best and most positive way to do that, by singing Christmas carols on the buses.”
The KCBI team said they’d support the board in removing all religious ads from buses, as did the Coalition of Reason.
Dallas’ public transportation system, DART, already prohibits religious advertisements of any kind.
“We are for the separation of church and state,”McDonald said. “I think most of my members would support a decision to make all of the public transportation religion free.”
“We do believe in freedom of speech,” said Terri Barrett, of the KCBI morning team, “but we also appreciate the fact that like DART did, where they said they don’t want to be a forum for public discussion they’d rather just be a transit company. That might be the best approach for The T.”
The policy change is effective immediately. Any ads currently running can remain until the contracts expire. The latest contract expires December 31, 2010.
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